Kath Williams: The Unions and the Fight for Equal Pay

By Zelda D’Aprano | Go to book overview

9
1965 to 1967: the ACTU gears up for action
as Kath begins to retire

Approaching her seventieth year and knowing her working career was coming to an end, Kath knew her requesting, pleading and demanding of equal pay legislation from governments would continue to prove fruitless. Governments were reluctant to legislate equal pay, for once having passed such an Act, women would accept this as justified making it more difficult to remove, while history has shown that the Arbitration Commission can quickly reverse previous decisions. Commercial interests dictate the terms and they consider increased profits through cheap female labour to be valid and their right. Nevertheless, Kath felt it was important to persist in the exposing of discrimination against women.

Although a small number of workplaces were successful in achieving equal pay, Kath and various left-wing union leaders believed the only way possible to get wage justice for women was to initiate a claim for ‘One rate of pay for the job performed’ before the Arbitration Commission.

On 8 April 1965 the Melbourne Guardian published a success story under the heading:


13 LABOR COUNCILS IN EQUAL PAY PACT

The Municipal Employees’ Union has signed an agreement with 13 Melbourne municipal councils for equal pay for their female employees.

-169-

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